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Colleges at the Crossroads

Taking Sides on Contested Issues


Edited By Joseph L. DeVitis and Pietro A. Sasso

Focusing on crucial issues in higher education, this book challenges readers to go beyond taken-for-granted assumptions about America’s colleges and universities and instead critically examine important questions facing them in today’s troubled world. Each chapter presents divergent perspectives, that is, "pro" and "con" views, in the hope of stimulating reasoned dialogue among students, faculty, administrators, and the public at large. Readers will explore how internal factors in the academic community often interact with external social, economic, and political influences to produce conflictual results. They will see that academe is hardly value-neutral and inevitably political. This book urges them to transcend strident political persuasion and instead engage in the careful analysis needed to make colleges better.

The text provides in-depth appraisal of key topics of controversy: the purposes of higher education, liberal education, academic freedom, political correctness, tenure, shared governance, faculty workload, admissions tests, student learning, Greek life, the worth of college, equity and social justice, athletics, student entitlement, technology and distance instruction, and college amenities. The book will appeal to students, faculty, staff, and all those interested in the future of higher education. It is especially useful for courses in contemporary issues in higher education, foundations of higher education, higher education and society, college student development, and the organization and administration of higher education.

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2. Modernizing College Purposes to Save a Troubled World (Patricia A. McGuire)


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2.  Modernizing College Purposes to Save a Troubled World


Imagine an enterprise that includes scores of Nobel Prize winners across the spectrum of learned disciplines; major sports teams with millions of fans worldwide; obscure poets reciting their verses in mellow basement coffeehouses; renowned hospitals whose doctors innovate path-breaking treatments; community legal aid clinics, particle accelerators, art museums, investment companies, technology incubators, hotels, and restaurants; Olympic champions, labor unions, thousands of newspapers and magazines and media outlets; acapella groups, real estate ventures, law enforcement agencies, soaring gothic chapels, molecular laboratories developing bioterrorism defenses, and libraries whose voluminous holdings would circle the earth many times over.

Oh, and the enterprise also has millions of customers and staff, aka students and faculty, engaged in thousands of classrooms virtual and physical, teaching and learning and conducting research and producing papers on just about every intellectual topic imaginable. American higher education in the 21st century is a vast enterprise, a holding company with thousands of diverse businesses loosely affiliated under the banner of “postsecondary education”—government nomenclature mashing together colleges and universities that often can barely recognize their common educational purpose amid the remarkable diversity of their many endeavors.

While many scholars and leaders in the industry agree that American higher education is “…the greatest system of higher learning that the world has ever known…”1 critics also insist that the flaws in the system are so serious...

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